In last week’s blog, I explored “Illustrating Your Strengths” as a core element of Appreciative Leadership. This week, let’s take a look at Inspiration as the second of five values associated with Appreciative Leadership.
We’ve all experienced great leaders who inspire. People who paint the vision and inspire the masses, and most importantly create an environment in which we go that extra mile. I had the fortunate opportunity to work for one of those great inspirational leaders. He had vision… he painted a provocative future, and encouraged each of us to take an important role in making that future real.
In recalling a conversation I had at the time with one of my colleagues on his team, we laughed as we shared how much we loved working for this person – despite the fact that we were working harder than we ever had in our life. Long hours were a fact of life at that time, yet we passionately believed in the vision before us. The ripple effect of this was that we were able to share this same experience with own teams, fueling high performance and new innovations. In that year, we made big waves that made a difference in our organization – changing the course of a long-standing, slow moving corporation. It was a wonderful experience inspired by this great leader!
What are the characteristics of Inspirational Leaders that we should all aspire to? Always choose to stay in the positive – great leaders find the good in their people, their organization and where they are going. Don’t dwell on the past or what is broken, but on what is possible and where you are going. Be generous with recognition for the strengths that each person brings to the table, and skilled at pairing people and teams together in ways that generate new ideas and enthusiasm. See beyond a narrow view of the immediate place of here and now, to what might be – and as importantly, paint the vision of what this might look like, so that it appeals to many. This requires listening to hear many viewpoints, and finding the synergies across the varying interests.
Finally, as authors Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom and Kay Rader wrote in their book, Appreciative Leadership: “People long to be inspired… They want to be part of a team… they want their work to be enchanting… They want it [their work] to invite them into a world of wonder, learning and meaningful contribution.” I know this describes the type of environment that I want to be a part of – to help create and share with others. So I’ll leave you with this question today, “What might you do to bring a sense of enchantment to your own work environment?!”